L'éléphant d'Asie

La nation des éléphants

La Route des éléphants

par Prajna Chowta

"Il est impossible d'imaginer l'Inde sans ses éléphants, tant cette espèce animale attachante fait partie de l'imagerie populaire de notre pays. Pourtant, la présence artificielle d'éléphants sur les sites célèbres tels que Jaipur au Rajasthan, Guruvayur au Kerala, ou encore Sonepur au Bihar, cache aux yeux des visiteurs la grave situation de l'espèce en général. En effet, les recherches les plus récentes indiquent qu'il ne resterait en tout et pour tout que 50 000 éléphants dans toute l'Asie et les spécialistes doutent que l'espèce survivra aux siècles à venir.

Lire la suite

La tradition des Mahouts

Indra monte sur son elephant Airawat (Temple Halebid, Karnataka)

par Prajna Chowta

Les anciennes sculptures et gravures de l'Inde représentent souvent le dieu hindou Indra, "Roi des Cieux", une main armée d'un éclair et monté sur un éléphant : Airawat. Selon la mythologie, ce grand éléphant blanc fut créé du nectar de l'immortalité dans les eaux de l'Océan et portait non pas deux, mais quatre défenses, tout comme le Gomphotère, un autre proboscidien (proboscis = trompe) qui apparut sur terre il y a environ 22 millions d'années et disparut il y a 1 million d'années seulement. Airawat est peut-être un ancêtre de l'éléphant actuel, et nous rappelle que cet animal était à l'origine la monture des dieux et des rois.

Lire la suite

Comparative DNA analysis of the Asian elephant populations

Hastividyarnava

by Régis Debruyne, Ph.D. grade student - Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle

Though lying at the interface of many thematics of research (of which ecology, ethology, conservation biology and evolution can be cited), Asian elephants and their history remain mysterious. The first genetic analyses of their DNA sequences are recent (Fernando et al. 2000; Hartl et al. 1996) and left many questions unsolved. It is still unclear if the partitioning of populations due to forest fragmentation since the past centuries had notable effects on the genetic richness and diversity of the species. In certain parts of their historical range, elephant populations have dramatically declined in numbers, and it has now become an urgent matter to evaluate the impact of the action of Man.

Lire la suite (en anglais)

Patrick Donald Stracey - Author of "Elephant gold"

Patrick Donald Stracey

A tribute by his youngest brother, Eric

My brother Patrick should have been named Peter, for he was a rock in every sense of the word. He was the second of eleven children, two years younger than my sister Doreen and was born on 30 January 1906 in the East Coast town of Cocanada (now Kakinada), then in the Madras Presidency where my father was a forest officer. He was fourteen when I, the last of our large family of eleven children arrived in 1920, so he was already a young man when I first began to take note of him. My earliest impression was of a sturdy figure of medium height, a swarthy complexion, and a serious face made even more stern by the moustache he cultivated while still at school.

Lire la suite (en anglais)

The Old Elephant Route

La Route des elephants

by Prajna Chowta

The Old Elephant Route project was designed and conducted to study the past and present migration of wild elephants on the border area between Burma and north-eastern India as well as the viability of this corridor as a migratory route in a region which is located at the geographic heart of the elephant habitat in Asia.

For millions of years, and until the beginning of human civilisation, elephants were able to move freely in an uninterrupted territory that covered the whole of South Asia, from the mouth of the Indus river (today in Pakistant), to the whole of India and South East Asia and the south of China.

Lire la suite (en anglais)

The Andaman Elephants

The Andaman Elephants

by Prajna Chowta
based on details told by Mrs. Jemmy Ganapathy and the notes by Adrika Swaminathan.

Originally, the Andaman Islands did not have elephants. The elephants that can be seen today in the Indian archipelago of about 200 islands, located in the Bay of Bengal, south of Burma (today Myanmar), were brought from India during the British time for the exploitation of timber. In the course of time, the elephants reproduced themselves, some turned feral and are said to be wild. They are known to swim between islands and this unusual behavior allowed the most stunning footage of swimming elephants to have been filmed. All these facts are well known, but the circumstances in which the Andaman elephants reached the islands seemed forgotten and I thought, scarcely documented.

Lire la suite (en anglais)